Mortlach ‘Sherry Beast’, Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, 61.5% – Cooper’s Choice

When things are announced as a ‘sherry beast’ you can generally tell they’re going to sell well. When they are also a Mortlach, you can bet they’re going to sell even faster.

But honestly, when something is a sherry beast, my first thought tends to veer in the direction of ‘there’s no distillery character left’. Of course, that too, tends to change with it being a Mortlach. Mortlach has such specific flavors that it could stand up to the violence that is inflicted on this spirit.

There’s no age stated on this bottle, and based on the initial price of some € 70, you can already tell it’s not going to be older than some eight or nine years. Maybe even less.

On Whiskybase this scores over 87 points on average, with over a hundred votes. This is quite significant, I think. When there are so many votes for a whisky, the average tends to become relevant.

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Brownie crust, apple treacle, a hint of coffee. Black pudding, dark bread, very meaty. Charred pork. Starts getting a bit soupy, brothy after a while, lovage.

Sip:
The palate obviously is quite hot, but it also feels a bit thin. Again, sweet and meaty. Barbecue with brownie. Minerals, black pudding, broth.

Swallow:
The finish shows a lot more typical sherry and whisky notes. Spices, barley, oak. But still a lot of iron, blood, apple.

This is an insanely weird whisky. It has the very typical meatiness of Mortlach, with the typical heavily sherried flavors from a fresh cask. This results in a very interesting whisky but, at least to me, not a very tasty whisky.

It’s all a bit too much. Too much alcohol, too much meaty flavors with the black pudding and blood flavors coming in too strong. Then the massive notes of the chocolate brownie not combining too well.

It’s all just too weird.

Strangely, it all gets easier when you don’t pay too much attention to the whisky. When you ‘just’ drink this, it’s pretty fine. There’s a lot of alcohol to get through, but at the end of a night, it’s just fine.

75/100

Mortlach Sherry Beast, Oloroso Sherry Cask 9355, 61.5%, Cooper’s Choice. Available on the secondary market for € 105

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Closing the door on 2020

Fair warning: I’m going to ramble.

Let’s do some reviewing of 2020, shall we? Of course, there’s a million other pages out there doing that, going on about how Corona affected their lives and their livelihood and such. I’m not going to skip all that entirely, but I’m going to try to keep it a bit closer to home, and a bit more related to booze. Or at least, that’s my intention.

Job

In February last year I started at a new company after my previous endeavor hadn’t gone too well. A pretty happy start to the year, if I might say so. I thoroughly enjoy working at We Are You and hope to do that for many years to come.

In a way, I found my way back since with only a little creative thinking, it’s more or less the company I started my ‘career’ at in 2006. Back then called Lectric, due to some mergers it’s now the same group of companies. Anyway, a very good beginning.

Of course, after almost two months Corona hit and I had to start working from home and have been doing so since. I work closely with quite a few people I’ve never seen in real life, and the ones I have seen in real life I’ve seen for all of 20 minutes or so. Still, things are well.

Music

Normally, I would have written, or am about to write a top 10 of my favorite records of the year. With 9 months of working from home, you’d think I’d have ample time to listen to new music and think about which records I prefer over others.

Strangely, I happen to work in a team that does ‘mob programming‘, so I’m in conference calls about 6 hours per day. When I’m not, I’m just happy to have a bit of silence. So, my ‘to listen’ list is huge at the moment, and I haven’t even kept track of what came out the last couple of months.

However, I can disclose that something very strange must happen for Ian Noe’s ‘Between the Country‘ not to be the number one.

Beer

I just didn’t make it. I hoped to get to 2500 unique beers on Untappd before the end of the year, but ended up at 2463. Of course, no one gives a flying fuck about whether or not I get there, but somehow it crept in my mind and it worked out differently. The missing 37 check-ins could probably have been fixed by Borefst Festival, but that got cancelled due to obvious reasons.

Anyway, I have become a bit more picky in one way, and a bit less picky in another. I’ve become more picky when it comes to just drinking random stuff that comes out. I want beers to be very good, and bring something new to the table. On the other hand, I’ve become a bit less picky about styles. I stopped caring for a lot of the modern hazy IPAs, but have redeveloped an interest in modern day Triples and Doubles. It seems the Belgians have decided it’s finally time to up their game.

Whisky

Of course, the most relevant topic to this here blog.

I’ve had quite a few this year. Not in the least because of all the online tastings, but more on that later.

I honestly can’t say which one was best. I would have to go through 12 months of blog posts and check all scores to see which one I liked most. Also, with me having had a cold since summer until fairly recently, I posted quite some notes I wrote in 2019 or sometimes even in 2018. Should these drams count?

Whisky is, to me, at a bit of a crossroads. On one hand, I’ve found that there is still a lot of gorgeous stuff out there that is relatively affordable. You don’t have to shell out 300+ Euros to find a 90+ points whisky. So, compared to previous years, I think the average cost per bottle has gone down in 2020. At least, the money I spent on a bottle on average.

On the other hand, prices keep soaring. Whereas I previously thought some ceiling had been reached, whisky appears to have broken through. Sometimes very sneakily. By now we have come to expect things to be ridiculously expensive, so even when a whisky comes out that is 30 Euros less expensive than expected, it can sometimes be 30 Euros more expensive than a similar release a year before. So the climb continues.

With this happening it sometimes is very hard to keep the ‘quality over quantity’ adage alive. If you want something exceptionally good, you have to spend several month’s worth of budget on it. And it’s questionable that it is four times as good as a semi-affordable bottle.

From that point of view, whisky sucks.

Bourbon and Rye

From Europe, Bourbon and Rye whisky might even suck more. Logically, most marketing and the largest chunk of their fanbase comes from the United States.

Unfortunately American whisky is much, much more expensive here than it is there. What is considered a solid ‘value for money’ bottle there, might set you back just shy of € 200 here. Looking at you, Old Forester 1920!

“But Scotch is much more expensive there than it is here”, I hear someone say. Yes, but the difference is in the benefit of the USA. Solidly.

Anyway, regardless of this pricing struggle, and a bigger struggle to hit an acceptable price vs quality mark, I’ve become quite enamored by both Bourbon and Rye again. It was quiet for some years, but not anymore.

Even in the online tastings I tend to have at least one Bourbon or one Rye in the line-up. Even though a lot of the participants would have rather had another single malt. Variance is the spice of life.

Tastings

Initially, three tastings had been planned for 2020. The Bad-Ass Tasting, and the Winter Tasting at Whiskyslijterij De Koning, and the annual Blog Barbecue Bash. The latter would have had it’s tenth iteration this year.

Obviously, these events couldn’t happen. The winter tasting was a bummer, but especially the other ones are the ones I regret not happening. Because of that, I didn’t even remember the 10th anniversary of this here blog until it was a week after.

From De Koning, I enjoyed several other tastings instead. From a set of samples, at home. Very different, but still very enjoyable. I also participated in several tastings from Norbert, AKA Whisky4All. Between the two of them, it’s some 30 American whiskies tasted already!

Also, I started organizing the ‘Stay the Fuck Home’ tastings since April or so. There’s eight tastings in the bank already, with another one lined up for January. Even though it’s been a shitload of work to get everything in, then sampled, then delivered or sent, it’s been great fun!

Through these (very) informal tastings I’ve been able to keep in touch with people I normally only see in a whisky context. It also helps that I don’t do these tastings for free and I was able to buy some bottles for these tastings. More new things to explore together with 5 to 11 other people (depending on the event). Thanks to all who participated!

That’s quite enough for this post, don’t you think?

Thanks to everyone who helped shape this year into anything else than a huge pile of steaming shit!

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BenRiach 1981-2010, 28yo, Bourbon Barrel 2589, 51.6%

I saved this bottle for seven years before I opened it. From a luxury position, I bought this because it caught my eye when I was at De Druiventuin in 2012 to swap some of my Ardbeg bottles for a bottle of BenRiach 1976.

Then, I figured that a whisky like this, from my year of birth, should be kept for a special occasion. Of course, there was always something else to open, or to think of an occasion as not special enough.

Last year, when FB invited me and some others to a ’90+ points’ tasting at his place, I decided the time was ripe. I was a bit apprehensive, since somethings don’t pan out as you hope they do, but I was not disappointed.

Since then, I slowly went through the bottle and while writing this, I am about to empty the last glass from it. Time for a review, right?

Sniff:
It caresses your ‘olfactory receptors’ with the best a bourbon cask Speysider has to offer. Baked apples, fresh pineapple, coconut flakes. Hints of straw and a whiff of vanilla. It becomes more bakery-like after a few seconds, with hints of honey and puff pastry. Baklava, anyone? Slowly the oak starts coming through after a few minutes, and the fresh fruit wanes a little bit.

Sip:
The palate is quite sharp for the age of the whisky and the ABV, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s not too sharp. There’s hints of black pepper and chili pepper, with straw and oak. The fruit is pushed back a little bit. There’s baked apple, coconut husk, hay, barley and some caramel notes. I start getting pear drops and other boiled candy.

Swallow:
The finish has a short blast of peppery heat at first, but quickly wanes to slightly dry oak, fruit and straw. Apple, pineapple, dry wood, barley. The lot.

Honestly, this is exactly what I hope a bourbon cask does, when given time. There is a whiff of vanilla, but it’s nowhere near overpowering. I’m glad to say this is a massive fruit bomb, exactly what an older BenRiach should be.

I love the pinapple, apple, peardrops, straw. All these things are among my favorite scents and aromas, and therefore the score is high. Holy crap this is good. A worthy whisky to get close to the end of the year!

92/100

BenRiach 28yo, 1981-2010, Bourbon Barrel 2589, 51.6%, Single Cask Bottling Batch 7. No longer available but expect to pay a couple hundred bucks.

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Kilkerran 11, 2006-2017, Rum Barrel, 57.7% – Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting

Another find in the sample stash. I started writing these tasting notes a bit apprehensive. Over the years there have been quite some Kilkerrans that I didn’t enjoy much. In my opinion it ranks just above Hazelburn as a brand. That still makes it my fourth favorite whisky brand in Campbeltown, though!

Image from Whiskybase

I didn’t know what to expect and even though I wrote the notes quite some time ago, I didn’t know this was drawn from a rum cask until tonight.

This wouldn’t have helped since I am also not a huge proponent of rum casks. I know some people absolutely love what Springbank does with these casks, but I’m not one of them.

Let’s dive in before my negativity becomes too much to bear.

Sniff:
Lots of straw and rabbit pens. Wet wood, wet straw, some vegetables. Dry barley, husks, barley ears. Slightly charcoal like.

Sip:
Fierce, as a first dram. Very dry with lots of sharpness from the alcohol. Dry barley again, with the same straw and husks as before. Some oak with coconut shell and some walnuts.

Swallow:
Very warming and slightly more focused on the oak. A bit less dry as well.

A tad dull, and not exceptional in any way. The thing that stands out most is the walnuts on the palate, which give it a bit of funk. Apart from that, it’s boring. That doesn’t necessarily make it bad, but it doesn’t get much more thrilling than ‘not bad’.

80/100

Kilkerran 11yo, 2006-2017, Rum Barrel 17-229, 57.7%, Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting.

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Benromach 21, 43%

When typing Benromach I always have to correct it once, because I type BenRomach, like it’s another Speyside distillery some miles south of Forres.

Anyway, I never had Benromach on my radar, until they released their previous version of the 10 year old. The one with the dark blue label. That really put them on the map again.

After that they have kept up the good work with quite some really good releases. As with every distillery, there are some expression that you don’t care about, like the Sassicaia cask.

It’s a bit of an easy target, these wine casks, but I generally like them less than bourbon and sherry cask matured whiskies.

Strangely, with Benromach there are also the distillery only casks, and private bottlings that are generally some 8 or 9 years old, quite harsh and strong and bourbon matured. These aren’t for me either, strangely.

After all that negativity, there should be some positive note too: The regular 10, the 100 Proof (or Cask Strength that they have now) and older releases, 15 year old and now this 21 year old, are stunning whiskies. And surprisingly affordable.

Of course, this 21 year old sets you back some € 140, but show me another official 21 year old bottling for that money. Let’s dive in!

Sniff:
It has the rich character you expect from Benromach, although the 43% holds it back a little bit. Very gentle, with quite some oak, some treacle, orange and peach. A whiff of smoke and a pastry cream note too.

Sip:
The palate shows more black pepper than I expected. Quite some oaky dryness, with hessian and some smoke. Dried orange slices with a hint of dark chocolate. Baking spices, raisins. Some bitter almond note too.

Swallow:
The finish is a lot more fruity with dried fruit and sweet oranges. Hints of mandarin, wild peach. Slightly funky notes of hessian and tree bark. A rather long finish, with some smoke.

It’s been a long time since I had a modern 43% bottling that was this good. An absolutely gorgeous whisky that shows a lot of complexity with a wide variety of flavors. It has the typical funky notes of Benromach with some oak and fruit driven flavors to push it to a higher level.

I bottle-shared this, and therefore I have only 20 cl (I kept two samples…) but I can imagine that this bottle might make a reappearance on my shelf in the future.

89/100

Benromach 21, Sherry and Bourbon casks, released in 2020, 43%. Available for € 135/140 in The Netherlands

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Two old Johnnie Walkers

In a recent mega bottle share from someone else’s collection, I managed to get my hands on these two old blends. Generally blends aren’t too special, but when they were made several decades ago, you get into an entirely different realm of whisky.

Based on my information, which mostly consists of some random Google searches, puts the Red Label in the 1970s, and the Black Label in the 1980s. I would have loved them to be older still, but you can’t have it all, can you?

Generally, when getting into these older blends, there are some things to remember:

  • The balance between malt and grain is much more in the middle than nowadays. Nowadays it’s virtually all grain.
  • Production processes were quite different, especially for the malt components.
  • These things have been in glass for decades, which does impact the flavor to some extent. The lovingly called OBE (Old Bottle Effect).

In short, their modern counterparts are generally pretty shit compared to these oldies. If they have been stored well, of course.


Johnnie Walker Red Label, 70 proof, 26⅔ fl. Ozs., 1970s

Sniff:
Quite tired, is my first impression. And I’m not talking about myself. There is quite a lot of bready grain influence, some malt and other grains. A bit of iron and minerals, which is mostly the Old Bottle Effect, I think.

Sip:
The palate has a lot of maltose sweetness, with quite some vanilla and oak. The iron is present here and gives it a bit of a harsh edge. The sweetness becomes a bit much the longer you let it swim, but the sharp edge becomes rather peppery and that helps.

Swallow:
The finish is a lot more classical for 1960s blends. Lots of malts, some minerals, and more dark bread croutons towards the end.

These old English bottles have fluid ounces and imperial proof, which translates to 40% (*1.75) and the contents becomes something like 757ml.

This one is, even though it’s from another era, still an entry level whisky. Of course, it’s miles ahead of current Red Label, and the OBE is a nice addition to the flavors this has to offer. Still not flying too high, but very drinkable and enjoyable.

86/100


Johnnie Walker Black Label, 12yo, 40%, 75cl

Sniff:
White bread, apples and grapes. Lots of ‘white’ fruit. A touch of minerals with magnesium and chalk. Rather closed off, but there is a bit of sweetness to be detected.

Sip:
The palate is surprisingly dry, with hints of old fruit, cork and wood. Corky apple, leathery apple and pear skins. Quite some grain and a whiff of black pepper.

Swallow:
The palate shows the first whiff of smoke, I expected that earlier. The peat is slightly dry and peppery, with some hints of engine oil and wood. Steampunk whisky?

As with the Red Label, the current version can’t hold a candle to this one. Unless you really want that peaty edge, which I think is much more pronounced in the current bottling. Maybe the decades in glass and the OBE has made it disappear.

Strangely, the whiskies are rather similar and I think this is mostly because they must have been distilled not too far apart. With this being bottled in the 1980s, which most of the whisky industry being mothballed, I think they didn’t use too active casks and tried to go for a bit of a lighter blend, which results in much similarities between this and the Red Label.

86/100


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Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2018, Select American Oak, 45.2%

A while ago, to my surprise, this Woodford Reserve Select American Oak was available from Whiskysite, and they had a 10% discount on everything sometime in autumn. Reason enough to try a three times more expensive version of their regular bourbon.

This ‘Select American Oak’ version has been matured in more carefully selected casks made from white oak sourced from the Ozark mountains. That is, according to the attached label, the special thing about this year’s edition.

Every year they do something different with their Master’s Selection. Ranging from using white corn, a sweet mash, a rye mash, cask finishes, and other things slightly different from the norm.

I compared this one to the regular bourbon for which I wrote a review yesterday. Let’s see how it holds up!

Sniff:
It’s a rather timid whiskey, as it turns out. Not surprisingly there’s slightly more oak, but it’s not very punchy. A slight acidic note, with a tiny hint of glue. Cornbread, some pear drops and other hard candy. Cherries, a bit of a floral notes.

Sip:
The acidity I found on the nose continues on the palate as well. Some vanilla sweetness with a whiff of black pepper comes next. It’s a bit dryer than I expected, with some woody astringency. Wood glue, green bark, malt, cornbread. The sweetness is kept to a minimum.

Swallow:
The finish continues very much down the same line with oak, some fruity notes and a sour touch. It’s quite a long finish.

Honestly, this is a very weird whisky. I can imagine Scotch drinkers liking this bourbon much more than the more regular, sweeter version. It has a lot more complexity, and a lot more depth to be explored.

The main drawback is that it is a rather timid whiskey. If I would have had a 3cl sample it’d be gone before you really know how to approach this.

Honestly, I very much like it, although the difference between this and the regular bourbon is in the details. It’s not a difference like between the bourbon and the rye whiskey. Thoroughly drinkable, too.

88/100

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch 14, Select American Oak, 45.2%, 2018. Available at Whiskysite for € 125

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4 x Woodford Reserve: Bourbon, Wheat, Rye and Double Oak

With the recent upsurge in bourbon consumption and appreciation, I thought it was a good idea to not just rank them individually without any background, or basis. With that, it sounded like a good idea to do a bottle-share of the basics from a certain distillery.

By doing so, we eliminate some variables like distillery equipment and geographical location. We let things boil down to the main variable being the grain mixture, or mash bill, as it is known stateside.

Of course, the Double Oak is the normal bourbon, but finished in a new American oak cask after initial maturation in the same. A bit of an extra kick of wood influence to the normal recipe. Sounds like the bourbon version of Quarter Cask things like Laphroaig does.

Why Woodford Reserve then?

  • Price
  • Availability

Getting some basics in should not cost the world and these are quite affordable for European standards. Compared to what they cost in the USA, I don’t think we should give that too much thought.


Image from Whiskybase

Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Batch 0723, 43.2%

Sniff:
The nose is quite heavy with a good amount of oak and lots of vanilla. Slightly nutty, with sawdust and baked cherries.

Sip:
The palate is initially rather light compared to the nose, but gets more woody right after. Dry ground corn, grains, and Brazil nuts.

Swallow:
A rather long finish with a slightly drying effect. Oak, corn and some tobacco.

A very solid entry level bourbon. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s more a drinker than a sipper. A tad simple, so to say.

83/100


Image from Whiskybase

Woodford Reserve Straight Wheat Whiskey, Batch 0001, 45.2%

Sniff:
Compared to the bourbon this is a lot more dry, a lot more floral and more light. Some caramel and slightly nutty. Straw and dried flowers.

Sip:
The palate is dry and a bit sharper. I think that’s more the grains used than the 2% difference in the ABV. Love hearts, oak and grains.

Swallow:
The finish somewhat more gentle than the palate, but the dryness lingers, as do the hints of flowers, grass and straw.

I still really like this whiskey. For a more elaborate review, check here.

85/100


Woodford Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey, Batch 0023, 45.2%

Sniff:
It starts off minty with hints of oranges. While this sounds like orange juice and toothpaste, it’s actually quite lovely. Hints of spices, grain and dark chocolate. Not a lot of oak. It reminds me of After Eight chocolates.

Sip:
The palate is rather peppery, chili peppers, mostly. Oak, mint and chocolate with hints of orange.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly dryer than the palate and rather long. Chocolate covered orange jelly, and after eight.

Lots of the good kind of candy in this one. A very tasty rye, especially for such an affordable one. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying this one over the holidays. It seems right.

86/100


Image from Whiskybase

Woodford Reserve Double Oak, Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished in a second Oak Barrel, 43.2%

Sniff:
Very smooth with lots of oak. Sweet with dark cherries, some grain, black pepper and vanilla.

Sip:
Black pepper again, with lots of oak. Dry, sweet vanilla and dark cherries.

Swallow:
The finish is rich and long, with mostly oak and pepper.

Strangely, this is a rather more simple whiskey than any of the others. However, the aromas and flavors are very intense and that makes this is a really solid dram. Of the four I enjoyed this one the most, just because it’s slightly clunky and a bit too straight forward.

I emptied the bottle yesterday, but I know 100% sure there will be another one.

87/100


I’ll try and follow this up with a more special Woodford Reserve soon, I got a bottle of one of the Master’s Collection, which is ripe for reviewing.

Anyway, I really enjoyed doing this flight of whiskeys from a single distillery. It’s nice to do a vertical and find out where an adjustment of just one or two variables takes a whiskey. All of them are lovely, with the standard bourbon being the simplest, obviously. The wheat, rye and double oak are thoroughly enjoyable and especially when compared, they are very interesting.

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, - Rye Whiskey, - Wheat Whiskey, Woodford Reserve | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Allt-a-Bhainne 23yo, 1997-2020, Barrel 102589, 52.4% – WhiskyNerds

Just like yesterday’s post, this one came in a while ago but I wanted it to give it the respect, attention and nasal capacity it deserves.

I find it a bold move by Bram and Floris to release an Allt-a-Bhainne. Not a popular distillery by any means. With having tasted some 5000 whiskies since I started tasting whisky, I think the number of Allt-a-Bhainnes can be counted on one hand.

Then again, I put it to Bram and Floris to select anything they find tasty. I also know they have high standards, although that can sometimes cause a bit of a failed reality-check with their Caol Ila from last year. Even though that is a tremendous whisky…

Image from Wikipedia

Anyway, Allt-a-Bhainne, possibly the ugliest distillery in Scotland, is not popular in the mainstream of whisky drinkers. Let’s give it a go!

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Smooth, and with lots of malt and fruit. Shortbread, biscuits, dough. But also wild peach, apple. Quite dusty too, some peppermint, toast and even some dry tea.

Sip:
The palate is quite smooth, and veers away from the dusty notes. It’s still a bit dry, and there are hints of pepper for some heat. There’s both fresh and dried peach, a touch of bitterness like peach stones. Dried strawberries, raspberries. So still something dusty after all.

Swallow:
The finish is suddenly even more fruity. It stays a bit timid, but the combination of malt in the form of shortbread, with the dried berries works quite well. Like the cookie version of scones with cream and jam. The dryness of black tea suddenly pops up.

I am not entirely sure how representative this whisky is for Allt-a-Bhainne, but it sure is a tasty whisky! There are quite a lot of interesting flavors to be discovered, which is a good thing. What also works is that it is not a generic whisky by any means, and the proper age is noticeable on the palate.

A good pick from the Dutch guys, but a very cask driven whisky. Recommended!

88/100

Allt-a-Bhainne 23yo, 23/07/1997-08/09/2020, Barrel 102589, 52.4%. Available from Best of Whiskies and The Old Pipe for € 200

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Black Tartan 1988-2020, Hogshead 00016, 48% – Black Tartan Limited

A while ago I was contacted by Skene Whisky, and Black Tartan Whisky if I would like to receive a sample for reviewing. He didn’t initially mention what the sample was about, but it had been ages since I was approached by anyone for such purposes.

Anyway, some time later this sample arrived and we were in the middle of quite significant construction work at home, and the dust that came with it clogged up my nose massively. In such a way that only now, after four months and three (negative) Corona tests later, I’m getting back to properly tasting drams again.

Supposedly, this blended malt whisky consists of Macallan, Highland Park and Glenrothes, so a very Edrington focused blend it is! Luckily, these three are generally in very good hands if they’re handled by independent bottlers.

This whisky was ‘blended at birth’, which is why it can be both a blend and a single cask. Birth was in 1988, so at the time of bottling this was 31 years old.

Sniff:
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of oak in this whisky, and there’s quite some vanilla on the nose. It’s rather rich with some Springbank-like funk as well. There’s an interesting bread scent that I can’t really place. No, it’s potato crisps or Pringles, somehow. I also get that with very malty IPAs, strangely (it’s not a bad thing, per se). So lots of slightly roasty malt.

Sip:
The palate is surprisingly fierce for a 31 year old whisky at 48%. Dry, with lots of oak and malt. After a few seconds there are some notes of tropical fruit with apricots. Dark, crusty bread. Black pepper.

Swallow:
The finish keeps up with the maltiness, but the hint of ‘Pringles’ is much diminished. There’s the apricots again, as well as a nice layer of rich oak. The spices of the palate are present too, but much more intertwined with the wood notes.

This whisky shows a remarkable balance, without being tame. There are some spicy notes, there’s fruit and oak too. What takes it up a notch are the funky notes that are especially present on the nose. This makes it quite a bit more interesting than ‘yet another blended malt’, and that’s pretty awesome!

88/100

Black Tartan 1988-2020, 31yo, Hogshead 00016, 48%. Available for £ 248 from Skene Whisky

Thanks to Skene Whisky for the sample! It’s delicious!

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